« October 2010 | Main | December 2010 »

November 30, 2010

Report finds decline in number of US "dropout factories"

A report released today by America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises and Johns Hopkins University’s Everyone Graduates Center shows that high schools across the country have made strides in retaining and graduating students in recent years.

Highlights of the report include:

The report found that nationwide, the number of “dropout factory” high schools fell by 13 percent – from 2,007 in 2002 to 1,746 in 2008.  The report also found that across the country, the number of high schools where 40 percent or more of the students fail to graduate fell significantly from 2002 to 2008, according to analysis of government data. And, nationwide, the U.S. graduation rate increased from 72 percent in 2002 to 75 percent in 2008

The report also found that in Maryland:

The number of “dropout factory” high schools increased by 10  – from 17 in 2002 to 27 in 2008; and the state's graduation rate increased from 79.7 percent in 2002 to 80.4 percent in 2008.


Posted by Erica Green at 11:32 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Around the Nation

Maryland receives "D" in charter school laws

A new report released this week by the Center for Education Reform issued Maryland's charter law "D" grade, and ranked it 35th out of the 40 states and the District of Columbia whose laws were examined. The state received the lowest marks for facility funding, teacher freedom, and overall implementation. Maryland's law was among the most recent to be passed (2003), while other states passed their charter laws in the 90s, so maybe it's growing pains.

Posted by Erica Green at 10:56 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Charter Schools

November 27, 2010

Poetry Out Loud contest

The Howard County school system will hold its second annual Poetry Out Loud competition as parto f a national meet that encouarges high school students to learn about poetry. Teh competition is presented in partnership with teh Maryland Arts Council, the National Endowment of the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.

The winner of the competition advances to the state contest. The state champion will participate in the national finals in Washington.

Joe Burris

Posted by Liz Bowie at 4:28 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Around the Region

Glen Burnie High graduate becomes Rhodes Scholar

 From my colleague Joe Burris:

Glen Burnie High School and Stanford University graduate Fagan Harris has been awarded a 2010 Rhodes Scholarship, one of only 32 students naitonwide, and 80 individuals worldwide, to receive the honor, county officials said.

Harris, who is currently studying in Ireland, will begin classes at Oxford University in England on Oct. 1. He attended Marley Elementary and Marley Middle School and graduated from Stanford last year.


Posted by Liz Bowie at 3:31 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Around the Region

November 24, 2010

Alonso among those to choose fate of NY schools chancellor

Baltimore city schools CEO Andres Alonso may not have had much to say publically about the resignation of his mentor, and recently resigned New York schools chancellor Joel Klein, but he will have quite a bit to say about who takes Klein's place.

The New York Times wrote a piece  earlier this week about a new advisory panel assembled by New York's education commissioner that will help decide whether to grant Klein's replacement--publishing executive Cathie Black--a waiver from state law requiring leaders of school districts to have substantial education credentials and experience.

Alonso, who served as deputy chancellor under Klein before coming to Baltimore, was among those on the advisory panel who met in a private meeting in New York on Tuesday to discuss Black's credentials.

According to an updated story , only two of the eight education experts voted to unconditionally grant the waiver. Wonder if he was was one of them?


Posted by Erica Green at 4:24 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Around the Region

War veteran barred by college

The fascinating story written by my colleague, Childs Walker, this week details how a war veteran is barred from a community college writing a story about the allure of combat for his English class. Charles Wittington got an A on the paper, but when his words were published in the student newspaper, college officials were concerned. Whittington wrote that killing "is something that I do not just want but something I really need so I can feel like myself."
 What do readers of the blog believe is the right course of action for the college?

Posted by Liz Bowie at 4:21 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Around the Region

November 22, 2010

Comcast Parent Involvement award nominations

Maryland is looking for parents whose time and effort has made a difference in the school or  their district. The state is now seeking nominations for the fourth annual Comcast Parent Involvement Matters Award. In the past, the awards have been given to volunteers who oversaw mentoring programs or advocated for change in their district.  Nomination forms are available from and are due by Wednesday, Jan. 19.
Posted by Liz Bowie at 2:55 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Around the Region

November 17, 2010

Hairston interview with the Patch

In a recent interview with the The Patch, Joe Hairston is described as saying that he sees the controversy over AIM "as an unwanted distraction that has been eliciting strong feelings that he equated to people's hatred to 'Hitler.'"  The superintendent says he believes that the focus should shift to education and away from AIM.


Posted by Liz Bowie at 8:56 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Baltimore County

Baltimore teacher contract passes

Baltimore's teachers voted nearly two to one today in favor of the contract they had rejected just a month ago. They said loud and clear that they needed more time to understand the implications of a  contract that substantially alters how they are paid. They apparently got the information they needed and are satisfied they will benefit. What do teachers believe comes next and what difference will this new contract have on the classroom two or three years from now?
Posted by Liz Bowie at 7:27 PM | | Comments (19)
Categories: Around the Region

November 16, 2010

Baltimore city mayor endorses BTU contract

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake wrote a piece in today's paper, urging the city's educators to "do the right thing" by voting for the proposed Baltimore Teachers Union contract tomorrow. The mayor has been a supporter of the district's efforts of revolutionizing the teaching profession in Baltimore since the contract was presented at the end of September.

The latest plug adds to an aggressive campaign that the BTU has waged in the last few weeks as they have been saturating the city with literature and volunteers to spread their message far and wide. This time around, they assert, no one can say they didn't have enough information on what's actually outlined in the contract.

We covered an interesting piece of the campaign today, which proved to be as controversial as the contract itself. But, it provided some insight into the tactics the union has utilized to be victorious this time around.

Voting is due to take place from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at five locations around the city. It's hard to gauge what the results of the vote will be, but many I have spoke with say that turnout may be the determining factor.

What is the mood in your schools? Any predictions on the voting results?

Posted by Erica Green at 2:38 PM | | Comments (18)
Categories: Baltimore City

November 15, 2010

More children staying in school, alive in Baltimore

On Sunday, we ran a story looking at the correlation between Baltimore's declining dropout and juvenile crime rates in recent years, which showed that more students have been staying in school, and less have been out on the streets wreaking havoc in the city.

No one is raising a victory flag--with only 66 percent of students graduating from city schools, and still 1,000 or more leaving every year. Nine children lost their lives to violence this year, and thousands are still jailed. The stories in our paper remind us of those realities every single day.

But, more of the city's children have a future--literally-- today than they did just three years ago, and we should be reminded of that every once in a while too.

Posted by Erica Green at 11:53 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Baltimore City

November 11, 2010

Parent critical of Hairston and school board

At the Baltimore County school board meeting this week, parent David Greene took a shot at both superintendent Joe A. Hairston and the school board.

 Greene was angry that Hairston had refused to be interviewed by the Maryland Attorney General's office about questions concerning the ethics of giving an employee, Barbara Dezmon, a copyright to a computer software product called the Articulated Instruction Module.  Hairston did go on WJZ, however, and suggest that race was an issue. "Dezmon used the word 'lynching' and Hairston used the word 'race.'" Greene said. "These are serious words with serious implications, so I am sure the board asked some questions."

 At that point in the three minute presentation before the board, Greene stopped and asked the board president if he believed there was a basis for the comments about race. There was silence. "I have a request for this board: that you do what we hired you to do and explain to Superintendent Joe Hairston that he must either respond to the ethics inquiry or resign," Greene said.

The board, by the way, wasn't hired. It is appointed and doesn't get paid. The panel did not respond in public session.


Posted by Liz Bowie at 5:52 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Baltimore County

O'Malley shouldn't give in to legislators, say editorial writers

Editorials in both the Washington Post and our paper today urge Gov. Martin O'Malley to go ahead with a regulation that would require 50 percent of a teacher's evaluation to be based on student achievement. A special committee of the legislature, voted against the regulation on Monday evening, however the governor has the final say.

Posted by Liz Bowie at 5:19 PM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Around the Region

November 10, 2010

U.S. lags behind many nations in math achievement

 The nation has fewer high achieving math students than many other countries and falls 31st out of 56 countries, according to a new study. In other words, only 6 percent of U.S. students perform at an advanced level in math compared to 28 percent of Taiwanese and more than 20 percent of students in Finland and Korea.  The study, done by the the journal, Education Next, and Harvard University's Program on Education Policy and Governance, was released yesterday and included some dismaying results.

For those who think that perhaps the results reflect the country's diverse population that includes immigrants and a high percentage of minority students living in poverty, the researchers say you are wrong. When the researchers looked at the performance of white students only, they found that just 8 percent were advanced in math. Among students with at least one parent who had been to college, only 10 percent were math achievers.

And how to Maryland students do? Not so well. The state came in behind Lithuania, Ireland, Norway, Poland and Hungary.

Posted by Liz Bowie at 6:08 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Around the World

November 9, 2010

Despite notable gains, report finds black male students still imperiled

Baltimore has been celebrating in recent weeks statistics that show the district's black male students have made notable gains in achievement, and were even the driving force behind the district's record graduation rate (66 percent) and low dropout rate (4 percent).

But, a new report released today by the Council for Great City Schools -- an organization composed of leaders from large, urban districts -- shows that black male students nationwide are still in an academic crisis when compared to their white counterparts.

The findings were released today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and city schools CEO Andres Alonso was in attendance. The report calls on officials all the way up to those in the White House to address what they deemed a "national catastrophe" taking place around the country.

Some highlights of the findings were:

  • In readiness to learn, black children were twice as likely to live in a household where no parent had full-time or year-round employment in 2008. And in 2007, one out of every three black children lived in poverty compared with one out of every 10 white children.
  • The first analysis of the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) -- which city students participate in -- revealed that in the 2009 fourth-grade reading assessment only 12 percent of black male students nationally and 11 percent of those living in large central cities performed at or above proficient levels, compared with 38 percent of white males nationwide.
  • In eighth grade, only 9 percent of black males across the country and 8 percent living in
    large cities performed at or above the proficient level in reading, compared with
    33 percent of white males nationwide. Math results were similar in both grades.
  • In black male achievement in selected big city school districts, 50 percent of fourth and
    eighth grade black males in most urban districts and nationwide scored below basic levels.

Baltimore belongs to the Council of Great City Schools and was recognized for its recent accomplishments Tuesday.

But this report brings us back down to earth in realizing that the achievement gap for poor, black students and their counterparts remains far too wide, and too many are still falling through the ever-growing cracks.

Posted by Erica Green at 12:59 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Around the Nation

November 5, 2010

Fundraiser planned tonight to help city teacher stay in the classroom

While I usually don't advertise personal events, I felt this benefit event, organized to help keep a courageous but diabled teacher in her classroom, was worth the exception.

Please read below for details:

Kate Hooks, a History teacher at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (and former teacher at City), has been living and teaching with multiple sclerosis her entire 9-year career in the Baltimore City Public Schools. The progressive disease has confined her to a wheelchair, and, in order for her to continue her passion of teaching, she must hire a caretaker (not covered by insurance) to help with various tasks, including assisting her in getting ready for work in the mornings.

Please join us in this benefit event for Kate on the night before the annual City/Poly football game, as Kate's current and former colleagues from Teach for America, Poly, and City (and whomever else would like to support the cause, including former students or the general public) toast to her well-being and raise money for her assistance and continued dedication to teaching the youth of Baltimore.

Roots Rocker Caleb Stine ( will be performing, Ze Mean Bean ( is offering pierogies for just a quarter each, and there will be drink specials (and the bartender will donate all tips to the cause).

We are asking for a $20 donation for the event and the goal is to raise enough money for Kate to be able to afford a caretaker and continue teaching her 9th graders into the new year. Thanks so much for your support and please spread the word. All are invited.
What: Kate Hooks Benefit Happy Hour & Concert. Help a BCPSS teacher in her battle for independence.

When: Friday, November 5th, 4:00 – 6:30 p.m.
Where: Ze Mean Bean Café, 1739 Fleet Street, corner of Fleet & Ann in Fells Point (410-675-5999),<>
Donation: $20
Donations all go to Ms. Hooks so she can hire a caretaker to help her get ready for work in the mornings and continue teaching her full load of 9th graders into the new year and beyond.

Mr. Mark Miazga
English Teacher and Varsity Baseball Coach, Baltimore City College

Posted by Erica Green at 12:10 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Baltimore City

November 4, 2010

Hairston interviewed on Attorney General's letter

WJZ's Adam May had an interview  with Baltimore County Superintendent Joe A. Hairston last night in which the school leader responded to concerns that he has refused to be interviewed by the Attorney General over AIM. He  seems to suggest that race is an issue.


Posted by Liz Bowie at 8:55 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Baltimore County

November 3, 2010

BTU sets new vote date

The Baltimore Teachers Union has announced a new voting date, when they will make another attempt at passing a radically new contract that was rejected by city educators last month.

According to the BTU website, union members will head back to the polls on Wednesday, Nov. 17, where they will be able to casts ballots from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The polling places have not yet been determined.

Since the revised contract was released on Oct. 19, the BTU appears to have upped its game in running a more organized, sophisticated and colorful campaign to present new details outlined in the contract to teachers. In addition to more information accessible on its Web site, the union has run a series of meetings, almost every day, after school hours, at sites around the city. Sources tell us that the tone of the meetings can sometimes undermine the purpose, but the debate is continuing nonetheless.

It seems that with the help of the American Federation of Teachers, the union is taking notes from the first-go-round, in looking to spread its message far, wide and in as unified a way as possible to change minds and boost turnout -- and ensure that people are making an informed decision.

But, what the next vote may prove, above all, is whether the defeat of the new contract was really about the delivery or the details, or just plan dissent. 

Posted by Erica Green at 6:46 PM | | Comments (54)
Categories: Baltimore City

New sign gets a lot of buzz

My story yesterday about the electric sign in front of West Towson and Ridge Ruxton schools seems to have gotten a lot of attention. It cost $35,000 which seems to have outraged readers, but I can't help thinking that maybe the interest has something to do with the fact that people were desperate to read about something that wasn't about the election. Perhaps a dispute over a sign seems to be a lot more fun than all those bickering pols.

Posted by Liz Bowie at 3:27 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Baltimore County

November 1, 2010

Hairston defends his position in letter to the editor

Superintendent Joe Hairston has a letter to the editor  published earlier this afternoon in which he defends his decision not to speak to the Attorney General's Office about AIM. The response follows a story from last week and an editorial published today.
Posted by Liz Bowie at 6:56 PM | | Comments (11)
Categories: Baltimore County
Keep reading
Recent entries

2011 Valedictorians and Salutatorians
Most Recent Comments
Baltimore Sun coverage
Education news
• InsideEd's glossary of education jargon

School closings and delays's school closings database is designed to provide up-to-date, easy-to-access information in the event of inclement weather.

Find out if your school is participating and sign up for e-mail alerts.
Sign up for FREE local news alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local news text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Spread the word about InsideEd
Blog updates
Recent updates to news blogs
 Subscribe to this feed
Stay connected